Pupil ‘could have been killed’ when car ploughed into Hartlepool school gate during wrecking spree

Jeff Cook alongside the damage to Sacred Heart school gates.
Jeff Cook alongside the damage to Sacred Heart school gates.

A HEADTEACHER fears a pupil could have been killed after a car crashed into the school gates in a hit-and-run wrecking spree.

The Mitsubishi Shogun careered into gates at Sacred Heart Primary School on Hart Lane, in Hartlepool, shortly after home time on Tuesday.

Jeff Cook alongside the damage to Sacred Heart school gates.

Jeff Cook alongside the damage to Sacred Heart school gates.

The car, which did not stop, also damaged a resident’s wall next to the school site.

The vehicle, reported to have being driving erratically, then collided with a parked-up Ford Galaxy also in Hart Lane and went on to crash into a wall near to Queensbury Avenue.

The driver then ran off and is wanted by police.

School headteacher Jeff Cook says someone could have been killed if the crash, which happened at 4pm, had been 45 minutes earlier hundreds of children and parents would have been outside the school.

Mr Cook said: “I firmly believe that had this happened 45 minutes earlier when children were coming out of school there could quite easily have been a fatality.

“Lots of parents walk up Hart Lane past the gates towards Deer Park and Bishop Cuthbert.

“When I think about what could have happened, it’s unbearable.”

The car damaged a fence attached to the school gates, which lead to the school’s staff car park.

Fragments of the vehicle were found strewn around the area, including across the road close to St Luke’s Church.

Mr Cook said the school has been concerned for some time about the amount of traffic outside the school and it had introduced a series of measures to try to reduce parking around Hart Lane when children arrive and leave.

The school’s starting and home times have been altered so pupils can arrive earlier.

And home times have been staggered to lessen the level of parking around Hart Lane.

Mr Cook added: “The school has been very pro-active to try to bring in safeguarding strategies for children when arriving and leaving school.

“I don’t think you are ever going to lessen the intensity of traffic up and down Hart Lane but you might be able to lessen the intensity of parking problems.

“Two years ago we changed our finishing times so some children now leave at 2.55pm and others at 3.15pm.

“This was done specifically to try to nullify the potential for too much traffic when the children leave.

“We want to make sure children arriving and leaving school are as safe as they can possibly be.”

Police are investigating the car and are appealing for help to trace the driver.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “We received a call to say a vehicle had collided with the steel school gates and a wall nearby at around 4.15pm on May 20.

“We received a second call to say that a car driving erratically had collided with a Ford Galaxy in Hart Lane, however there were no injuries.

“A further call at 4.20pm came in to say that a blue Mitsubishi Shogun had collided with a wall near to Queensbury Avenue and that the male driver had fled the scene onto Catcote Road.

“Officers have recovered the vehicle and are conducting enquiries to trace the man responsible, anyone with information is asked to contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101.”